Normally I’m skeptical of people who make ambitious claims for their ideas for reforming business. Too often, these approaches are long on exhortation and short on practical ideas, precisely because corporations seem particularly enthralled with simplistic approaches and bold-sounding sales patter. The business book section of most bookstores contains far too many works on reinventing business (or yourself as a businessperson) that are a treacly combination of self-help and business jargon, sometimes with a coating of New Age do-gooderism.
This talk by computer scientist Bruce Eckle is nothing like that. He started from the question of why most people hate their jobs and whether it was necessary or useful for most workplaces to be as dysfunctional as they are. He starts with trying to identify assumptions that most organizations accept as gospel, such as the need for hierarchy and deadlines, to see whether they are valid.
This is a short talk for such a large topic, so I suspect some readers will have more ideas about some of the phenomena he describes. For instance, he gives a benign explanation for why upper management will be inevitably out of touch. I’m sure readers can give additional observations, such as too many middle managers are out to do what is best for their career, which is not necessarily what is in the best interest of the company, but they need to disguise that fact from the top brass.
Even if you don’t agree with all of Eckle’s views on reinventing business, his effort to identify and strip away misguided conventional wisdom is a productive place to start.